The neo-Confederate group League of the South (LOS) will be holding a protest in Uvalda, Ga., this coming Saturday to protest the “Southern demographic displacement” allegedly caused by Latinos who have moved to the area. The rally is directed specifically at the town’s mayor, Paul Bridges, a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit that led to much of Georgia’s anti-immigrant law being struck down by the courts.
Slated to speak at the event, which has been supported by the town’s police chief, are several LOS members, a former neo-Nazi and a man once imprisoned for stealing weapons from the military that he planned to use in a race war.
The LOS, listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a hate group, advocates a second Southern secession and a society dominated by “European Americans.” The group believes the “godly” nation it wants to form should be run by an “Anglo-Celtic” (read: white) elite that would establish a Christian theocratic state and politically dominate blacks and other minorities.
The LOS says Mayor Bridges is an “an activist for Third World immigration and amnesty for illegal immigrants.” Also in its statement about the protest, the LOS says that the town council and Police Chief Lewis Smith support the event. Bridges is one of the plaintiffs in a largely successful suit brought by the SPLC against Georgia’s punishing anti-immigrant law, HB 87.
The LOS website claims Chief Smith “has expressed his support for the demonstration and asks that we bring as many people as possible. He assures us that the people of Uvalda do not support illegal immigration and amnesty and he believes that we will be warmly welcomed by the people of the community.” As of yesterday, Smith’s public Facebook page listed only one favorite, the League of the South.
On the LOS’s Facebook page promoting the event, Chief Smith wrote on July 22, “its [sic] about time everybody knows how this city is being drug through the dirt by the mayor. the [sic] police dept [sic] city council and citizens do not stand with the mayor on his stance for immigration.”
The chief now seems to be wavering. After being contacted by the SPLC about the types of people speaking at the protest, he claimed he was ignorant of the extremism of some of the speakers. “I don’t agree with what you are telling me if that’s what these people are,” he said.
Smith also claimed ignorance about the LOS, saying they seemed like good pro-Southern folks, adding that his support had been narrowly targeted to the issue of immigration. In the interview, Smith said he is “not backing the protest,” saying that if the speakers were anti-Semitic and racist, “I don’t want to be that.”
“I’m not for neo-Nazis or the KKK,” Smith said. He added that he had a family member who is of mixed race. He said that, at this point, he would not be participating in the protest but would be there to provide police protection and would look further into the SPLC’s information.
Neo-Nazi ties to the event start at the top. Event organizer Michael O. Cushman, 36, of Aiken, S.C., is a former member of the neo-Nazi National Alliance. Records show Cushman first contacted the National Alliance (NA) in 1997, at the age of 21, and became a dues-paying NA member in November 1999 with the membership number, C0127. Now, Cushman runs the Southern Nationalist Network, which is a co-organizer of the event. Like many young racists do today, Cushman is organizing the event on Facebook, where, as of Tuesday, 32 people had indicated they planned to attend.
Oddly, after years of fetishizing the Confederate flag, including holding massive pro-flag rallies in Montgomery, Ala. and Columbia, S.C., the LOS is bringing its own flags to Uvalda, and the battle flag is not among them. Instead, organizers will provide the Georgia Secession Flag and the Southern Nationalist Activism Flag (apparently of their own design).
The organizers also have adopted a rather stringent dress code that seems to consign the normal favorite attire of neo-Confederates to the trash bin: “No t-shirts. Shirts must be tucked in. Belt needed. No belt buckles with pictures, flags or messages. The same goes for hats. No old or holey jeans. No re-enactment paraphernalia. Do not bring flags or signs – we will provide these. Please be ready to smile and make a positive, friendly first impression of the League of the South and Southern nationalism!”
The rule that “shirts must be tucked in” has caused some concern for racists who evidently want to carry a concealed firearm to the protest. A potential attendee going by the name “Peak Finance” wrote on the racist blog Occidental Dissent, “Don’t mean to cause problems, but about this rule here: ‘Shirts must be tucked in.’ Umm, There is a very good reason I walk around with my shirt un-tucked, do I need to say it publicly? I’d rather not. This means I would need to wear a suit jacket? Ugg.”
Also attending the Uvalda demonstration is Matthew Heimbach, a white supremacist leader with the Traditionalist Youth Network, an outfit that claims to be organizing “white student unions” on college campuses. Heimbach spoke earlier this month at the Practical Politics seminar put on by Stormfront. His speech, which can be seen here, emphasized Heimbach’s being “primed” for revolution and his dislike of Jews.
Another prominent racist participant is Kyle Rogers, a key player in the CCC who runs a very active chapter in South Carolina. It has held repeated rallies against undocumented workers at the state Capitol and hotly defended the Confederate battle flag. (Rogers told one reporter that the NAACP was “busing in welfare mothers” to demonstrate against the flag.) Rogers also posts anti-Semitic tirades under the name “Valhalla” on Stormfront. His rants have covered such topics as modern crimes perpetuated by Jews and the supposed Jewish domination of the media. In one thread published on the topic of male circumcision in January 2012, he wrote, “Your typical left-wing Jew is obnoxious about being Jewish and constantly drawing attention to their Jewishness. … Your hardcore Orthodox Jews were probably upset when American Christians first started doing [circumcisions].”
Michael Tubbs, leader of the Florida LOS chapter and another speaker, has a frightening history in the racist movement. In 1987, prosecutors say Sgt. First Class Michael R. Tubbs and another Army Green Beret, toting automatic weapons fitted with silencers and dressed completely in black, robbed two fellow soldiers of their M-16 rifles during a routine exercise at Fort Bragg, N.C. “This is for the KKK,” the holdup men shouted as they fled. While he was abroad, the wife of his partner in the 1987 holdup went to authorities. Ultimately, five caches of weapons were found, including machine guns, 25 pounds of TNT, land mines, an anti-aircraft machine gun, grenades, booby traps, 45 pounds of C-4 plastic explosive and more. (Authorities believe that the arsenal was stolen from Fort Bragg and Fort Campbell, Ky.)
They also found notes written by Tubbs that showed that he and his brother, John Tubbs, were setting up a violent, racist group called the Knights of the New Order. Officials said Michael Tubbs had drawn up lists of targets that included newspapers, television stations and businesses owned by Jews and African Americans. There was even a group pledge authored by Tubbs: “I dedicate my heart to oppose the enemies of my race, my nation and the New Order. ... I dedicate my life from this moment forward to fostering the welfare of the white Aryan race.” Tubbs served four years in prison.
Other speakers include Michael Hill, who heads the LOS, and Ed Wolfe, head of the Georgia chapter. Hill hung up on a call from the SPLC seeking comment on the protest and the speakers’ views.
Some of the new young racists in the white nationalist movement are playing a big part in the Uvalda protest. They also seem to have somewhat lax views regarding racial purity compared to their older racist compatriots.
For example, protest organizer Cushman has some unorthodox ideas for someone who was a member of a neo-Nazi group and appears to oppose Latino immigration. He has more than 1,000 posts on the racist website Stormfront under the name “hammeroftours,” where he claims “Julius Caesar was a real Latino.” He says the same is true of Spain’s medieval Queen Isabella, whom he calls a real “Hispanic.” It is unclear if his love of Latinos, or at least Caesar, is related to the four years he claims he taught English in Europe for the Spanish military and government. Cushman, also on Stormfront, writes supportively of singling out Jews “for the negative influence and schemeing [sic].”
Cushman refused comment to the SPLC, emailing, “I am uninterested in having any contact at all with anyone (much less answering any of your questions) connected to the SPLC. Goodbye.”
Another young movement leader slated to speak is Hunter Wallace, aka Bradley Dean Griffin, a longtime racist from Midway, Ala. Griffin has been posting on Stormfront since 2001, under the name “Njection,” and also runs the racist blog Occidental Dissent. Recently, Griffin has made public that he is engaged to Renee Baum, daughter of Gordon Lee Baum, who heads the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC). Griffin says Renee Baum will be attending the protest with him.
And this brings us to more unorthodox racial views from some of these young activists. Renee’s sister, Laura Leigh Baum, claims she has lots of Jewish friends and Native American blood (as then must her sister Renee). In a criticism of anti-racist activists in 2007, she wrote: “There are Jews in the [Council of Conservative Citizens], I have friends that are Jewish, my dad has close friends that are Jewish, one man there has KIDS that are Jewish. So calling us Nazis is RIDICULOUS! Not only are there Jews in the CofCC, there is every other race you can think of. I am part American Indian... do you think my dad hates me?”
Perhaps the CCC has Jewish friends and members as Laura Baum writes, but Brad Griffin, who is supposedly marrying her sister, titled a post about Jews on Stormfront this way: “Ha I hate Jews.” He went on to write, “I despise them...White Americans have many enemies, Jews, invading Mexicans, Black Parasites, but none greater than the mortal enemy of all White Christian Civilization which is Arabic Islam.”
Griffin did not respond to an email seeking his comments.